And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say,
Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments. Revelation 16:1-7 (KJV)
One of the four Living ones of chapter four gives each angel a golden vial [bowl] according to the plague for which they are assigned.
In 5:8 is mentioned “golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints”. It would appear that there is no more prayer – “no man was able to enter the temple”. The time for prayer will cease, and the time of God’s vengeance against those who mocked His name, His law, His holiness and righteousness, and His people has come.
The vials are the last judgment before the appearance of Jesus in all His glory.
The voice from out of the temple must be that of God the Most High. The prayers of the saints from 5:8 are being carried out to the fullest. Do we pray for vengeance upon evil today? Should we? I believe that we do and should; of course, for the cause of God’s glory. We must remember evil even in our own lives. In the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) is the phrase “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; and that is what Jesus is speaking of. The fire of His Spirit falling on us burns away the dross and filth of evil. If you are “in Christ” ( a phrase used by the apostle Paul) you stand in the fire and come out purer and stronger before God.
Let us commit ourselves as followers/disciples of Jesus Christ to praying for God’s vengeance upon evil (starting with our own), and one day we will see it brought to pass. Let us pray also that friends, family, all our loved ones, and neighbors will be convicted of sin, and in that, lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. Every time a soul is saved evil is judged.
It seems that where the seven seals, and seven trumpets speak of man’s choice to live without God, their sin brings judgment and finally in the bowl judgments God’s own hand is stretched out to judge.
- For God to pull away and let mankind have his way is a terrible judgment;
- Man’s selfishness, pride, lust, greed causes pollution, and environmental harm bringing their own judgment;
- Finally, when wicked men see God’s wrath and yet reject His mercy and grace, God steps in in full force to put an end to evil.
These vials [bowls] seem to coincide with the seven trumpet judgments. Remember the seventh trumpet brings in the seven vials of wrath. Where the seals and trumpets only seemed to touch a part of the earth – one fourth part in the opening of the “seals” (6:8), one third part in the “trumpets” (8:7-9) – these judgments seem to touch the whole earth and the heavens.
What the seven vials of judgment deal with and their correlation to the trumpets:
- 8:1-7 “The earth” 16:1-2;
- 8:8-9 “The sea” 16:3;
- 8:10-11 “The rivers” 16:4-7;
- 8:12-13 “The heavens” 16:8-9;
- 9:1-2 “Mankind – torment” 16:10-11;
- 9:13-21 “An army” 16:12-16;
- 11:15-19 “Angry nations” 16:17-21
These seem very similar, but the scope of their devastation is much different. The vial judgments are said to be “the last”.
With the vials:
- (V. 2) The objects of this wrath are clearly the ones who worshiped the beast;
- (V. 3) The whole sea turns to blood compared to only one third with the second trumpet (8:8-9);
- (VV. 4-7) Every stream and fountain of fresh water becomes “blood”; with the third trumpet one third of the waters became bitter (8:10-11)….
Verses 5-7 are a doxology of praise to God. It is a righteous and just thing to praise the Lord when He judges evil. Let us also rejoice because one day all evil will be eternally dealt with.
Judgment is not a pleasant to talk about, however it would not be appropriate, neither would it be right to ignore these horrible events. It would be improper for a doctor to find cancer in a patient and not inform the patient. God has made a way for humankind to miss judgment, and that is by way of believing and receiving the gift of eternal life purchased for you on Calvary’s cross – Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and on the third day he rose again. He is alive forever more.